Sika’s front-line technologies and construction expertise played a crucial role in the successful completion of the 57km long Gotthard base tunnel.
The Gotthard base tunnel in Switzerland, which was officially inaugurated on 1 June 2016, is both a novelty and a remarkable achievement in tunnel engineering. It is the longest rail tunnel in the world and passes through one of the highest Alpine massifs, running some 2 000m below the mountain summits.
For the construction of the 57km long tunnel, an extremely long service life was required as part of the specification for concrete and waterproofing systems, during which time these should require no significant maintenance.
In the course of an elaborate prequalification process, the immensely stringent quality requirements were entirely met by Sika’s durable solutions for waterproofing, fire protection, coatings, and concrete and shotcrete production.
Reliability built on Sika’s technical know-how
The company’s partly newly developed products underwent rigorous practical tests by official testing laboratories prior to mass production and application. The high-grade shotcrete used to support the tunnel excavation served as the base for the Sikaplan® and Sarnafil® waterproof membranes. The concrete lining was then placed using Sika admixtures to achieve the high degree of precision required for the tunnel surface geometry.
A long track-record
Sika has been involved in the construction of the Gotthard railway tunnels in Europe since early days, with Sika-1 earning industry acclaim and commercial success in 1918, when the first Gotthard railway tunnel needed waterproofing.
Today, the Gotthard project defies all superlatives. Since the start of preliminary testing in 1992, Sika’s employees have worked more than 210 000 hours on this once-in-a-lifetime project. Approximately 20 000 tons of concrete admixtures were used for the concreting works. The tunnel was waterproofed with 3,3 million m² of Sikaplan® membranes – roughly the size of 330 soccer pitches. Overall, some 40 000 tons of Sika products, equivalent to 1 700 freight wagons, were transported to the site.
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